Birthdays are an interesting part of American culture. You have your first one before you’re even old enough to properly blow out candles and some people say their first birthday is one of their earliest memories. (I don’t personally remember mine, but there’s a picture of me as a baby looking somewhat perturbed by my cake – a two-tiered, white iced thing, with plastic clowns on it . . . I’m not sure what my mother was thinking.)
Birthdays can serve as milestones. Turning thirteen, having a sweet sixteen, getting a license at sixteen. Buying a lotto ticket at 18. Drinking legally at 21. There are all sorts of expectations for birthdays. They’re s meant to be special. A sort of congratulatory party, because you made it through another year of life. Cake, singing, presents . . . and so many cards from so many coworkers who you ordinarily don’t really speak to.
This year – today, actually – I am twenty-five. A quarter of a century old.
I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel mature and responsible, or young and carefree.
Right now I just feel sort of worried.
Last night, I confessed to my boss that I don’t think I’ll be transferred into online courses this semester, which puts me at missing about ten hours of work a week – not counting my exams that also have to be proctored at the campus. I was nervous about telling her and tried to test the waters by noting that my SO had asked, “Will you be fired, if you can’t transfer to online courses?” He didn’t ask that, actually, because he’s not worried.
She immediately assured me, “Oh, no! Little muffin, I wouldn’t do that. We’ll work it out. Life happens sometimes, to all of us.”
I felt like a fifty-pound weight was off my chest . . . but then . . .
I messaged her this morning with the confirmation of the bad news. I can’t transfer to online courses. Essentially, I received a, “Because reasons,” answer from the school on it. I let her know and crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t be angry or upset.
What I get is, “Okay. When you get in, tell me what hours you’ll be out again. I’ll have to let Roger and Jose know. I won’t be able to do anything until after that.”
Wait, what? Last night it was, “Don’t worry, we’ll work through it.”
This morning it’s, “Well, no promises.”
It would be a hell of a birthday present to be fired, I suppose. I’d have the rest of the day off, so I could job hunt. Maybe I’d even get a sympathy hire??? Technically, I do have an in at Dunkin’ Donuts, working the midnight to five shift. I’d be a decorator. And I’d be making $2.00 less and working 15 hours less. Not ideal, no. But better than nothing.
On top of this worry about my job stability (which, ironically, is a worry I’ve had since I first started working when I was nineteen), I’m worried about breaking the bad news to my SO that my tuition costs this semester weren’t properly showing up. Instead of getting back roughly $2,000 next week, I’ll owe $530 by the end of this quarter. On top of still having to pay off the credit card balance of $1,400 from last quarter.
So. This is what student debt feels like.
My birthday is not entirely without bright spots. They’re balancing the negatives (sorta).
Last night, my SO picked up my present, which he’d had on layaway . . . a brand new PS 4, complete with Call of Duty III. I didn’t set it up last night, because a) it wasn’t technically my birthday and b) I had to complete a Health Assessment assignment that took the better part of three hours to finish, because of how detailed it was.
Tonight, my SO and I will hang out at the house, maybe watch the presidential debate, while I study for a quiz tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed that he’ll set up the PS 4 while I’m at work, so that I can play some during study breaks. I also have a birthday dinner with my family on Sunday, so that’s something to look forward to as well.
Falling asleep, last night, I kept telling myself, “This will all be okay. It will all work out.”
My SO – who was really more my Owner, in this context – stroked my hair and “Mmhmm’d” at me, but he didn’t realize that I wasn’t just talking about one thing. I was trying to assure myself that everything will work out . . . school, work, us, me, life.
I don’t know if it will, actually. I feel sometimes that I’ve only stumbled through the past twenty-five years, rather than really living them. But, twenty-five years is more than a lot of people get, which makes me lucky. And here, where I’m at, the weather is great.
So, if I do get fired, at least I’ll be able to walk home while enjoying the day.